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East Suffolk residents disillusioned after LionLink meetings leave them with more questions than answers

Residents have been left disillusioned after consultations about a unique energy project left them with more questions than answers.

Meetings about LionLink were held on September 22 and 23, in Reydon and Walberswick, and were attended by some 700 locals over the two days.

LionLink aims to connect offshore wind between the UK and the Netherlands, and can supply around 1.8 gigawatts of clean electricity to the UK.

The potential landfall sites being proposed by LionLink. Picture: LionLink
The potential landfall sites being proposed by LionLink. Picture: LionLink

But residents left the meetings feeling that officers from the National Grid did not really have an appreciation for the local area, and what they were saying did not make sense.

The National Grid welcomed attendance at the consultations, and did any feedback given will help inform proposals in the future, with further meetings being held this Friday (October 6), and online in a fortnight’s time.

Pamela Cyprien, chair of Reydon Parish Council, said: “What was really good actually was that the LionLink thing, it was crowded – lots of people, lots of questions.

Picture: LionLink
Picture: LionLink

“The people from LionLink, they don’t seem to know the area, they don’t seem to have looked at the environmental impact, people were asking the same questions and getting different answers.

“One person I spoke to didn’t know how to answer, they seemed to be avoiding questions.

“I think from what I have heard, there are frustrations about lack of area knowledge.

A flyer from LionLink about their meetings, including their upcoming meeting at Leiston. Picture: LionLink
A flyer from LionLink about their meetings, including their upcoming meeting at Leiston. Picture: LionLink

The parish council will now have its own public meeting on October 27, where residents are invited to attend and voice their opinion about the matter.

And Pamela mentioned that, whilst green energy is important, how we get it is a much more difficult proposition.

“Most of us, whilst we realise the need for green energy, we will need to be convinced for it to come onshore not offshore; this part of the coast is falling into the sea as it is.

“We will also end up with construction vehicles in the area, how is that going to be possible, there’s barely room for the 4x4s.”

The potential environmental impact of the project is increasingly worrying residents, with the potential for trenches, whilst under construction, to be as wide as a motorway.

Fiona Gillmore, founder of Suffolk Energy Action Solutions (SEAS), strongly opposes the plans for LionLink and the potential impact on the environment is at the forefront of their concerns.

A SEAS stall out on campaign. Picture: SEAS
A SEAS stall out on campaign. Picture: SEAS

She said: “Throughout these last four years we have witnessed the disingenuous behaviour of developers who have been allowed by government to get consent orders to ride roughshod over our countryside and through communities using the argument ‘it’s cheaper for the consumer.’

“What value do we as a society give to a 100 year old hedgerow, a 300 year old oak, a bird corridor for bitterns and marsh harriers, a river full of 875 reported species including threatened bats, otters and water voles - how do we value what is priceless?

“We know from Belgium’s National Grid equivalent called ELIA ( who have a national master plan unlike Britain) that offshore grids pooling energy at sea from two or three wind farms and taking it to brownfield sites is the cheaper, more efficient solution and faster.

A poster from SEAS' campaign. Picture: SEAS
A poster from SEAS' campaign. Picture: SEAS

“We will continue to fight in High Court against these destructive and callous plans.”

Locations involved in the proposals from LionLink include Reydon, Walberswick, Leiston and Friston.

The Friston village newsletter, The Swift, noted that the National Grid is moving ahead with their interconnector projects as if the judicial reviews from SEAS do not exist.

A SEAS rally. Picture: SEAS
A SEAS rally. Picture: SEAS

Gareth Burden, construction director for National Grid Ventures, said: "We thank local communities for their participation in our consultation.

“At this stage of the project, we are still developing our proposals but we are keen to provide as much detail as possible and will continue to keep communities updated as the project progresses. There will be further consultation as the project develops.

“These public events play a critical role in helping to shape the proposals going forward which is why it is so important for members of the public to come along and share their views with us.

“Our experienced team are very familiar with the area and are conducting detailed surveys and environmental assessments which will inform the development of the project.

“We will be holding another consultation event at Leiston Community Centre on Friday 6th October from 2pm until 8pm as well as online events on 17th and 18th October and would encourage people to join us.

“Feedback received during this consultation will be considered and help us to refine our proposal further before our statutory consultation in 2025."

The non-statutory consultation period runs until November 3, which National Grid say will provide opportunity for comment on the alternative landfall site at Walberswick.

National Grid said that LionLink would contribute to national energy security and the UK’s climate and energy goals.

Dr. Therese Coffey MP was approached for comment and repeated her previous statement of her opposition to the projects and the need to consider offshore options.

Claire Coutinho, Secretary of State for Energy Security and Net Zero, was approached for comment.